Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Impressions

GOTY? I think not.

So Xenoblade Chronicles and I have no history. I've not played the first game and as much as I wanted to play X, I didn't want to buy a Wii U for it. Now that the second game is on the Switch and I had one of those anyway because it's....frankly a surprisingly good system, I am able to play a game series which I've always been interested in.

I know the "Xeno" games aren't technically the same thing, but they all share themes that I really like namely the use of big fuck-off robots in a traditional JRPG set up. Xenogears is one of the best games ever made with simply the best battle system to ever appear in an RPG ever, and if you disagree I'll fucking fight you on it. Xenosaga was an epic trilogy of games with very decent combat systems and way too long cut scenes. However the story on characters are great and there is a reason Kos-Mos appears in a ton of other games, she's badass to the core.

But as far as the Xenoblade series went, I only knew about what was on the box art.

Xenoblade starts you as a boy/guy (age late teens maybe?) named Rex who makes his living diving into the sea (which is made up of clouds for reasons) for salvage. The world no longer has land masses and people instead live on the backs of these huge creatures called Titans. These titans are so big they might as well be land masses, complete with biomes and ecosystems of life in addition to supporting small cities and towns. Rex lives on a very small titan by comparison named Gramps who seems to be a father-figure to young Rex.

The story really begins when Rex gets hired to join these warriors called Drivers to salvage up a hidden Blade. Blades are living weapons that bond to Drivers giving them combat abilities and the like. So these Drivers that hire Rex are after a exceptionally powerful Blade but need his salvage expertise to retrieve it.

Of course things don't go as planned and in a twist of fate Rex ends up bonded to this rare and powerful Blade they call the Aegis, together they escape and set off on their adventure. As a premise I enjoy the story, and the interactions you have between your party member's and your blade are great. And while the big world ending plot hasn't yet cropped up in the first 12 hours or so, the set up stories and things I've done in the game so far have been interesting and entertaining.

Sadly the story is really the only thing good about this game, and even that is up for grabs depending on how many cliche JRPG tropes you can ignore.

First off let me talk about the presentation. While the world, the music, and the graphics are all up to par for anything the Switch can handle without tanking fps like a wheezing gorilla, the animations and the voice acting is royally fucked. Most of the cut scenes are jarring because the characters will often be doing animations or inflections that represent the Japanese Voice over, not the English ones. So you have these characters acting out stuff, only to have the English voices begin talking partway through the animation. The lip flips are worse then ever the cheesiest Godzilla movie and it really takes me out of the emotion of the story when everything is so fucking off.

Now I know what you are gonna say, "Well Critical, its a Japanese game so of course the animations and stuff will be meant to match the Japanese dialog not English." To which I am gonna call bullshit, because it is just fucking lazy in 2017. Let me point out a game ten years old called Final Fantasy 13. If you look at the game, you'll see that the productive of that game actual cut and modified everything to fit the English translations. From full CGI cut scenes to in-engine cut scenes everything was tweaked to match. Now Square Enix has the means to put in that kind of production value. But in looking at who developed this game I found it was backed by Nintendo itself, and Monolith soft who is owned by Warner Bros., which means that money was not an issue and considering FF13 was ten years ago I find it hard to believe that a little animation editing would have been that difficult with today's computer tech.

All in all it makes the game fucking hard to watch.

Then you have the actual gameplay, which is also terrible. The way combat works is that there is supposed to be a flow. You have basic attacks, which allow you to perform specials, these specials charge up super attacks, rinse and repeat. Well that's all fine and dandy, except basic attacks are not controlled by the player, they are automatic and don't work if the player is moving.

So here is how combat flows. You position yourself next to an enemy and you stand there while you attack it. You watch your special moves (of which you have three different ones on your bar at any given time) each of which charges at a different rate, but using one doesn't reset the others so you end up using one, then the next, then the next over and over as each bar fills up. Depending on how much health the enemy has you'll either use your super when it's ready or let it charge up to a max of level 4.

This combat system requires no thought, and no planning, you simply use abilities when the game decides to let you use them. Oh and your party members do shit by themselves and require no input from you other than to press a button to use their supers. Now supposedly there is some system where you time auto attacks with the activation of your specials to get them to do slightly more damage but I've never purposefully done that and it hasn't mattered in combat at it. There is also some kind of extremely poorly explained combo system where you use a super of one element then use a super of another element to trigger debuffs and such on the enemies, but 12 hours in and I haven't been able to figure out how to make any of that happen regularly. The times I have done it, it was pure chance.

Not only is the combat system boring, but even the most basic enemies have tens of thousands of HP. This is probably an attempt to make combat last long enough for things to charge and you to use abilities. But fuck me it's slow and it's boring. I'm level 21, fighting level 18 Squirrels and shit and they take upwards of three minutes to beat because of these over inflated health bars.

I don't know, I'm probably missing some key combat mechanic that would make all my characters be drastically more damage and thus reduce the time in combat, but if I am it isn't explained very well anywhere in the game at all.

The only thing keeping my going right now is the story, because it is genuinely interesting and the characters around me are fun. But unless something happens to the combat to suddenly make things fun, I doubt I'll be able to slog through the game for much longer.

If you are on the fence about picking up this game. I really wouldn't unless you already are familiar with the combat and how to make it all work, because otherwise you'll not have a good time.

You should Play Xenoblade Chronicles X, its the least intutive game I've ever played, the story is trash and they're trowing New game mechanics at you 30 hours in. I think its the best Wii U exclusive. If you like BOTW's open world and lack of linearity, this is its predecessor

If you can get a Wii U for like less then 150 you should get it because you can just mod it to play roms.

Xenobalde Chonricles 2 on other hand is alright, Im only 6 hours in and it doesn't feel polished.

Voice acting is bad, huh? That's a hell of a shame. The acting in Xenoblade 1 on the wii was fantastic, so I'm really disappointed they didn't nail it this time around. :(

Oh well. The combat sounds like more of the same as the first game (MMO autoattacks, set up a strong party, position yourself to make maximum use of your abilities, etc), and if you say the story itself is good, I'm pretty much sold on it.

It's just a shame I'm having to drop money on a new PC right about now (my 3-year old laptop is running into more and more consistent issues), otherwise I'd have picked it up and a switch this month.

If you don't like it, can I have your copy?

Rented it for a glance at it.

Setting seems interesting. Actually would be kind of a cool survival type game, playing a nomad on Titanback (Side note : Survival games really are too grounded for their own good a lot of the time. One of the things that keeps me playing Ark is the sort of ridiculousness it scales up to).

Rex irks me for some reason. Not sure if its his design, or his weird out of place accent (which probably is also the animations). His transition from everyman into sudden die-hard hero was also kind of abrupt when that happens, even if circumstances merited it. Like he goes from fighting crabs and scavenging to full blown anime-hero vs the villains on a dime once he gets the Blade.

The combat seemed kind of monotonous. Watch guy auto-attack thing, hit button when it lights up. The positioning stuff that started to show up seems like it'd be a nuisance if there gets to be a party trying to keep everything in real time. The questionable hybrid of strategy and real-time with JRPGs is hardly unique to this, granted.

I'm loving the game so far. Characters, combat, interactions and all that jazz. Even the TIGER TIGER game is fun :D.

CritialGaming:
Snippy-doodle

If you want a good want a good way to speed things up, there's a bit of an exploit in the auto-attack that I'm certain Monolith kept in intentionally since the first Xenoblade. If you tap the control stick to move just a little, it'll reset your auto-attack animation. With a sword type blade like Pyra, you'll attack right off the bat. With a ball type weapon you'll just be wasting time for the first attack animation to wind up. But if you keep tapping the control stick, you can crank out auto-attacks about 3-4 times faster than just sitting there waiting. I'm fairly certain this was intentionally left in, since it was doable in the first title, and still easily doable here. Maybe it's just a limitation of the engine or something, I dunno.

But hey, give it a try! I know I've been using it extensively to speed up combat a little. I like the combat a lot, but waiting for the normal auto-attacks does take a bit too long for the art recharge rates. This little trick has been a huge help

I knew from watching some 15-minute Nintendo Direct video that the game's systems were all so needlessly convoluted from the various different combos to several things to collect that there would be so much needless grinding it wasn't even funny. Basically, "collect this and then you'll need to collect this other thing in order for that first thing to even do anything". Why don't you just make that first thing do something on its own...

CritialGaming:
Not only is the combat system boring, but even the most basic enemies have tens of thousands of HP. This is probably an attempt to make combat last long enough for things to charge and you to use abilities. But fuck me it's slow and it's boring. I'm level 21, fighting level 18 Squirrels and shit and they take upwards of three minutes to beat because of these over inflated health bars.

I don't know, I'm probably missing some key combat mechanic that would make all my characters be drastically more damage and thus reduce the time in combat, but if I am it isn't explained very well anywhere in the game at all.

I'm sure the battles only take so long because you don't know how to properly and efficiently utilize the combat system is what the Nintendo Defense Force would say if they could *wink*. Plus, how can't you fully grasp the combat system yet when a certain someone knew how every convoluted mechanic worked and interplayed with each other after watching a video explaining it?

Auto attacks and watching gauges fill up to unleash a special/chain attack?

Holy shit, that seems like a horrible combat system.

Elvis Starburst:

CritialGaming:
Snippy-doodle

If you want a good want a good way to speed things up, there's a bit of an exploit in the auto-attack that I'm certain Monolith kept in intentionally since the first Xenoblade. If you tap the control stick to move just a little, it'll reset your auto-attack animation. With a sword type blade like Pyra, you'll attack right off the bat. With a ball type weapon you'll just be wasting time for the first attack animation to wind up. But if you keep tapping the control stick, you can crank out auto-attacks about 3-4 times faster than just sitting there waiting. I'm fairly certain this was intentionally left in, since it was doable in the first title, and still easily doable here. Maybe it's just a limitation of the engine or something, I dunno.

But hey, give it a try! I know I've been using it extensively to speed up combat a little. I like the combat a lot, but waiting for the normal auto-attacks does take a bit too long for the art recharge rates. This little trick has been a huge help

This is a good idea in theory but the game actively discourages this, because auto attack grow in power every time they chain. And if you use special attacks at the end of auto attack combos the damage of them also increases. So you might be able to reset the auto attack but I dunno if it's actually practical.

CritialGaming:
This is a good idea in theory but the game actively discourages this, because auto attack grow in power every time they chain. And if you use special attacks at the end of auto attack combos the damage of them also increases. So you might be able to reset the auto attack but I dunno if it's actually practical.

While true, I find my damage output is more than enough without letting the auto-attacks combo. Say it takes 4 seconds to chain 3 auto-attacks with Pyra. With this technique, I can often fit 6 auto-attacks in that span of time alone. So the damage increase may be there, but it's not really that much that it outdoes the first hit spam I've been doing. I also tend to let one auto-attack hit, then use an art, and that increases its damage by a lot, it doesn't have to be on the 3rd hit. Maybe not as much as a 3rd hit followed by an art because that's stronger than just 1, but I sometimes let those fly if I have time for it before re-positioning. Your output also goes way up due to the fact you're filling the arts gauges really quickly, so you're able to let fly high power position based arts and specials long before you would if you sat there waiting.

Also, add core chips and other stuff that increases your auto-attack strength to high degrees and you're in for high levels of DPS compared to simply standing around.

Edit: Just experimented a little bit more with the auto-attacks in game right now. Didn't realize the damage output was THAT improved with subsequent attacks. Whoops. Well, this is a good technique to know if you wanna chage arts and specials faster at least! Might not be good for auto-attacks, but it still boosts the increase rates of your arts by a huge degree regardless

I smell Yoshi Bait!

Ellux:
I smell Yoshi Bait!

He got suspended.

The combat system as described reminds me a bit of the Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment game for the Vita, but the special attacks were on cooldown timers if I remember correctly, not things that got charged up as you attacked. Got pretty monotonous, but I believe you would get some bonuses if you could chain your attacks with your party members or with your own special attacks just right. Been a while since I played it, and really have no desire to play it again after the numerous hours spent getting everything.

I've always felt the Xenoblade combat system is trying to happy marriage gameplay styles that don't mesh well for a 80 hour and counting adventure, like they don't provide enough even remotely for me to keep interest. In chronicles I got bored of the combat system after like level 39 or 40, when the skills you get aren't coming fast enough and I'm running through the optimal chain short of dire circumstance all damn day and night. In X outside of one stupid mission I stayed with a single class the whole game and supplemented with the rest of my team. The button inputs at intervals in chronicles were okay at best for me as well, awful in X and doesn't look too great in 2.

The series is super you love it or hate it from my experience, I thought chronicles was good not great, X was boring despite adding a good handful of changes to make it more palatable and 2 already seemed kinda weak with a visual style and voice work that just seemed abysmal at best.

The internet is complaining about a hyper sexualized bunny girl with a broken spine.

Who plays with balls if I remember correctly.

The whole voice acting complaint reeks of it being rushed for a simultaneous worldwide release. There've been quite a few japanese games recently where this has happened. Dragonball Xenoverse 1&2 both had awful dubs, despite using the proper english cast who give good performances in the show.

The source of the problem is that the localisation studio doesn't have the actual cutscenes when recording, they only have the script to work off of. They can hardly reference material that isn't finished. Unless you're a big project like FF, localisation is completely detached from primary development. They were probably still adjusting cutscenes by the time Eng recording was finished, let alone the time when the studio got their script-to-translate.

A crying shame.

A lot of dubs come out okay either because the project was properly accomodated for concurrent localisation, or, with smaller projects, come out several months later than the JP release, so they have time to adjust.

Marik2:
The internet is complaining about a hyper sexualized bunny girl with a broken spine.

The screencap that everyone was losing their mind over was actually from a glitch that broke her rig, or at least according to /v/. If true, that's pretty sad for all those neogaf-likes complaining.

Wait xenogears having one of the best combat system in JRPG? Look, I love the game but the system is barebone, there's no reason to use your older combo, you just always use the new one and there's no strategy in combat, just spam and don't let your health goes to 0. In gear you just want to go in infinite mode and then spam your most powerful ability.

As far as chronicle 2, I find it funny that they pulled a reverse xenosaga 2 with the visual, make up your mind monolyth! But the franchise is one that never interested me since they always had this offline mmorpg system for both quest (repeat pointless one times a millions) and combat (spam ability off CD) and it seems like this one just does the same.

50 hours in, got a lot more left (only around level 40). I really hate the mechanic for getting blades, just a time waster RNG bullshit.

Also did anyone notice the Utawarerumono references in it?

Dunkey pretty much nailed everything I thought the game would be from a 15-minute Nintendo Direct video. The game is just like Pokemon but you collect girls.

Marik2:
The internet is complaining about a hyper sexualized bunny girl with a broken spine.

Danny Devito wore it better.

https://twitter.com/mombot/status/938091224371642368

Also to the people saying "you're a misogynist" for liking the game despite a flaw, just stop. You're just hurting your cause.

RaikuFA:

Marik2:
The internet is complaining about a hyper sexualized bunny girl with a broken spine.

Danny Devito wore it better.

https://twitter.com/mombot/status/938091224371642368

Also to the people saying "you're a misogynist" for liking the game despite a flaw, just stop. You're just hurting your cause.

Similarly, if "gamers" would quit getting bent out of shape when people criticize games for something that "gamers" don't think is a problem, we could have...

Well, harmony is probably the wrong word.

So I have come to the conclusion that I cannot play this game. The story and the characters are really good, but the gameplay and the combat is trash. I can't sit through the utter nonsense of waiting for the ability to press buttons. The combat is so completely non-interactive that i cant rightly call it a gameified system.

altnameJag:

RaikuFA:

Marik2:
The internet is complaining about a hyper sexualized bunny girl with a broken spine.

Danny Devito wore it better.

https://twitter.com/mombot/status/938091224371642368

Also to the people saying "you're a misogynist" for liking the game despite a flaw, just stop. You're just hurting your cause.

Similarly, if "gamers" would quit getting bent out of shape when people criticize games for something that "gamers" don't think is a problem, we could have...

Well, harmony is probably the wrong word.

I've been seeing more jokes about it then "aargh, they're trying to take away our sword waifus". Hence why I poStedman that twitter link. I personally have been making joke after joke about it. So have all my friends.

 

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